New weapons contract between South Korea and the Philippines
In September 2018, two top arms companies from South Korea and the Philippines inked a key joint venture deal. While the initial scope of collaboration in the deal covers only firearms, it nonetheless put the focus on ongoing activity within the defense aspect of the Philippines-South Korea relationship.
United Defense Manufacturing Corporation (UDMC) is a Philippine defense contractor and firearms manufacturer based in Parañaque, Philippines. It provides the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine Coast Guard, amongst others, with firearms and other tactical equipment. The company primarily produces M1911-pattern pistols and AR-15-pattern rifles and carbines, notably producing a gas-piston variant called the Pneumatic Valve and Rod Assault Rifle (PVAR) (Picture source: UDMIC)
South Korea has been involved in fighter jets, frigates and other key line items in the Philippine army modernization. Defense collaboration was on the agenda in June, when Philippine President Duterte paid his first visit to South Korea since 2016. In late September, this aspect of ties was in the spotlight again with the inking of an agreement between a Philippine and a South Korean firm. S&T Motiv signed a pact with Philippine firm United Defense Manufacturing Corporation (UDMIC), the Philippines’ largest rifle maker, which has already been providing weapons to the Philippine military and law enforcement officials.
The joint venture agreement by two sides is focused initially around producing firearms for the Philippine military and police force. The initial focus of collaboration will be on the manufacturing and supply of firearms, as well as further areas such as research and development on existing platforms and the development of new weapons. There could be future expansion in this initial scope as well. S&T Motiv president and chief executive officer Kijoon Yu told The Philippine Inquirer that there may be a manufacturing facility eventually set up in the country if the expansion is successful. And there is also an eye on eventually expanding collaboration to include other markets as well beyond just the Philippines as well.